The One Question That Always Stops My Worrying

I’ve been worrying for as long as I can remember being able to think. 99.9% of my worries are admittedly irrational and unnecessary. I often worry about things I can’t control, things that really don’t make sense, and things that have a 0.0013% chance of occurring (trust me, I’ve calculated it).

I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve met countless people who bear the same burden. Even people who don’t have an anxiety disorder can get sucked into the endless cycle of worry. We worry about money, about family, about weather, about health, etc. If it has the slightest potential to be a problem, we can (and do) worry about it.

The Bible has a lot to say about worry. There is encouragement after encouragement after encouragement in the Scriptures to not worry. Instead, we are encouraged to trust in God and to rely on His power to get us through whatever circumstances we might face.

Of all the passages about not worrying in the Bible, there’s one small question that has the largest impact on me personally. In the middle of the most famous sermon ever, Jesus devoted a whole section to worrying (He knows what we need to hear). Jesus encouraged His listeners to not be anxious about their life (Mt. 6:25). Jesus gave some proof that worry doesn’t help. Flowers don’t worry, yet they’re beautifully clothed. Birds don’t worry, yet they’re fed.

In this context, Jesus asks a rhetorical question that gets me every time I read it. He asks, “which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Mt. 6:27 ESV). The answer to this rhetorical question is, “none of us.” Worrying has never bought me more time to live or enriched the time I have. All it does is rob me of peace of mind and joy.

This question always gets me thinking, why do I worry in the first place? I usually worry about bad things that could happen. Things that could end my life, or ruin it in some way. But the worrying doesn’t help. It doesn’t prevent things that I have no control over from happening. It can’t. All it does is poison the pleasant reality at hand. We can’t add anything to our lives by worrying, but we do it all the time.

Thus Jesus gives us something to aim for in His manifesto for Kingdom living. A mindset that trusts God for what we need and peacefully lives one day at a time:

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. 
Matthew 6:31-34 ESV